When Weeds premiered in 2005, the TV universe had already explored the dark underbelly of the world of drugs, but it was usually in connection with law enforcement agencies or big mafia. So by all accounts, the premise of Weeds was enough to get you invested.
The premise was – A recently widowed single mother from an upper-class household starts selling weed to provide for her family.
Weeds was created by Jenji Kohan, who is now known for Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. And watching the early seasons of Weeds now gives you the sense of evolution that Kohan went through in all these years.
What is Weeds all about?
As mentioned above, Weeds is all about Nancy Botwin (played by Mary-Louise Parker) who is a single mother to two teenage boys. After her husband’s death, she has been struggling to make ends meet and wants to continue living the comfortable life they once led. So what does Nancy do? She starts peddling marijuana. Her husband’s brother moves in with them to help with the kids, but no one knows her secret, yet.
The first few seasons of the show focused on the perceived monotony of the suburban lifestyle. The opening theme “Little Boxes” suggested that while everyone is living this cookie-cutter lifestyle, there is more beneath the surface.
Over the course of the show, Nancy progresses from a small-time weed dealer, to getting entangled with a mafia boss, among many other illegal activities that force her to move multiple times with her kids so they all can all stay alive and out of jail.
The best bits of Weeds
It is important to note that Weeds premiered three years before Breaking Bad so the basic premise of a seemingly upstanding citizen getting embroiled in the world of drugs wasn’t done in popular television yet. This is why Weeds appeared unique. The show’s dark humour also played to its advantage.
The first couple of seasons have Nancy abiding by her principles while also trying to sell drugs. We see her trying to protect her sons from marijuana. Her nosey neighbour is constantly spying on her, and even her brother-in-law suspects some illegal activity. The story arc where Nancy opens a bakery to cover for her drug activities plays out well, but the anticipation of Nancy-Conard (her initial dealer) relationship looms over everything else.
By Season 3, it is clear that Nancy is on her way to becoming a pro. Nancy is dealing with Mexican and Armenian mobsters. She is stringing along a new husband who works at the DEA just so he can’t testify against her. Nancy gets him killed eventually and is pretty happy to get all the insurance money. Season 4 onwards, Weeds took off in a different direction. It was not the show that we started watching but was engaging, for the most part, nevertheless.
The worst bits of Weeds
It could be a coincidence that Weeds started sliding downhill soon after the premiere of Breaking Bad, its obvious competitor. After Season 4, when Nancy is pregnant with Esteban’s (a mafia lord) child and is thinking of each step forward just so she can avoid death, it is clear that the characters here have bitten off more than they can chew.
We started with Nancy trying to maintain her family’s lifestyle, but by Season 6, the family with two teenagers and a new born baby has moved to a different country and yet again, they start selling drugs. The audience starts getting a sense of cockiness from Nancy and Andy, and unlike what we saw with Walter White, Nancy isn’t even the scary Heisenberg of her business, so all the effort looks quite wasteful.
For me, the last three seasons of the show, ever since the family moved to Canada and started living a nomadic lifestyle, were quite awful.
From being a show that worked because of its cliffhangers, it turned into a show which had way too many twists, if there is such a thing. The show did not close on a moral lecture since, by the time the last episode aired, marijuana had already been declared legal in a lot of US states. This, somehow, made Nancy Botwin’s journey all the more futile.
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What’s next for Weeds?
It was reported in 2019 that Weeds is coming back with a sequel with Mary-Louise Parker reprising her role of Nancy Botwin. So far, new developments about the project have been reported.
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